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Teala's Wickedly Cool MMORPG.com Blog For The Masses

Just my thoughts on MMO's, roleplaying, game companies, and the people that play these games.

Author: Teala

Gear - It's what's for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!

Posted by Teala Friday February 18 2011 at 1:57PM
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Gear --- is it really the only end game hook that game designers can come up with to keep players playing? If we look at the various games that have come out in recent years, there is one thing most share, and that is the end game consist of arenas, dungeons, raids, and battlegrounds, and the reward is --- you guessed it; gear.  Gear that is used to do what?

Run arenas, dungeons, raids, and battlegrounds!

Excuse me while I go bang my head against a brick wall somewhere, because it would be just as fun as most MMORPG’s end games these days. I am trying to remember when “gear” became the end all, be all of MMORPG’s. Somewhere, somehow, game designers moved away from player skill and character skill, and turned these games into gear centric games. Everything about the game revolves around getting that “gear”. You have to have “that gear” to do this, and you need “this gear” to do that!

No game is this more an issue than World of Warcraft. The “grind for gear” has become the end game of WoW and that is the sad truth. Oh sure, sure you can grind for achievements. Than again, many(and I do mean many) achievements are actually dungeon, arena, and raid based nowadays, and well...that means you’ll need “that gear” or "this gear" to be able to participate in those places, otherwise you’re never going to get those achievements completed.

Let’s see, I suppose a player could do...oh wait...yeah, running arenas means you’ll need “this gear”; if you expect to be competitive. Could go do...on second thought, no...no, I will not go do any of the trivial crap that remains. It is boring, it is tedious, and it is not fun. After leveling half a dozen toons to 80+(because that is the only other thing left to do really) I am beyond tired. I am beyond bored. I’m just done. Why? Because I’m tired of the current crop of MMORPG’s(games like WoW, Aion, Warhammer, Rift - I'm not talking the super hero games mind you) lack of any kind of end game that is not revolve around getting - “GEAR!”

What ever happened to games that involved taking and holding territory? What ever happened to games the involved getting richer or gaining political power? Running a city? Being a successful merchant or business operator? Where is a game that doesn’t require me to spend all my time chasing gear, just so I can participate in end game content to just get more “gear”!  Gear use to be what you clothed your character in and you liked it because it made your character look cool and unique.  Not any more.   Now it is you need this gear and that gear and the saddest thing is...in the end, you and I will have the same looking gear in the end - if we're the same class.  This is true in most games these days.  Gone are the days of players creating a unique looking player.

You know what one of the worst travesties of recent game design is? Wait..before you answer, let me remind you, we’re talking about gear here. OK, guess.

Yep! If you guessed that game designers now feel the need to have two different sets of armor for end game participation I’ll give you a “Hammie”, you deserve it.

Designers, bad ones at that, just couldn't use more of their brain cells to come up with a better hook for their end game, and instead they decided that players need to grind for hours and hours to get the top tiered PvE gear(one piece at a time BTW and sometimes based on an RNG system at that!).   Oh no, that's not good enough, we need to make absolutely sure that we add another layer of BS to our game, because see, there is also PvP gear! So instead of one set of armor being enough, now we must grind for two sets! This is where I’ll catch flak. OK, I'll succeed that some players do not care about PvP, so there is no need for them to obtain the PvP gear. There are however, many players that do participate in both aspects of most games(PvE and PvP), but guess what...they are not free of this borked up system just because they only participate in one aspect of the game and you'll see why. 

My question is - why do we need two different sets of gear? Why three? Or four! Oh yes, in WoW, there is multiple types of gear...like DPS gear, Tank Gear, Healing Gear!

Really?! Do we really need so many different sets?! Take my DK in WoW. She has PvE gear, both tanking and DPS sets, and she also has her PvP gear! That is three sets of gear just to play the game.

Who decided to make this the norm for game design? I mean, look at WoW.  I mean really look at it and how it is set up. It is stupidly complex for complexities sake. DPS Gear, Tank Gear, Healing Gear. Now look at recently released games. Aion, two sets. Warhammer, two sets. Rift, two sets. etc, etc, etc, ugh. Does someone have a brick wall I can borrow? I wanna play “bang my skull” against it to see how many times I must do this before I knock myself out. Why oh why, is this the norm now?  It's an honest question.   I'd really love to hear a developers take on why they feel the need to introduce this type of nonsense into a game.  Yes it is nonsense.   It’s just really stupid, and bad game design, that has lead us down this path, and the designers that continue to do this in my opinion are not doing us players any favors --- in fact I'll go even further and say I think that game designers that incorporate this into their games should not be designing games(MMORPG's) at all.

I know, someone is going to say they need different sets of armor for balance purposes, or another will say because PvP gear allows for PvP fights to last longer than 10 seconds. My response as I said earlier...”nonsense”.

I remember playing Asheron’s Call, and we had one set of gear, and that armor was good for both PvP and PvE. There was no need for two different sets. I remember Dark Age of Camelot when it first launched we only needed one set of gear for both PvE and PvP. There was no need to obtain two different sets of gear and we certainly didn’t have to “grind” anything to be able to participate in the end game of those two games. For one thing, those two games end games were a lot more fun than anything recently seen in other so called MMORPG’s, and they were a lot less tedious and boring that’s for sure(sad that AC is out of date and Mythic borked up DAoC with stupid game design changes over the years). If only Turbine would make a true predecessor to Asheron’s Call, or Mythic would make a Dark Age of Camelot II.

If I were to design an MMORPG, you’d not need two, three, or even four sets of armor, all you would need is what you could get your little paws on. Plate would be plate. Chain would be chain. Leather would be leather. It would work for both PvE and PvP, and whatever else you wished to do in game. The difference in my game and say, WoW, Rift, and Aion is, my game would have lots of different designed armors and cloths! Instead of one end game set of armor to choose from for PvE, you’d have tens, if not hundreds of sets, and they’d all be viable, and give players one option few games these days give --- visual customization, and a better end game.

Next weeks installment - End Game, really...it's just a raid?

cirdane writes:

Soooo agreed! gear whoring and hunter changes drove me out of wow after 5 years just as TOA drove me out of beloved Hibernia in DAOC so long ago. you threw on your best stuff and went out and played the end game now getting gear IS the end game and BORING.

Best times being a Ranger in DAOC and scouting in my crappy gear and reporting on the mid zerg to the Hib main force wasn't even worth any realm points but god it was fun to help put paid to Mids even in crappy gear :P

Fri Feb 18 2011 4:09PM Report
Noir01 writes:

This is my problem with mmo's also (and part of the reason i left them) Beta tested Rift but i won't buy it now, as i don't want to endless gear grind like in WoW.

Tho you might disagree Teala, i think (and hope) mmo's like Tera, GW 2 and TOR employ a different idea to keep people playing like making your own story, having fun in PvE and PvP.

Ofc will always be some sort of gear grind, but it shouldn't be the be all and end all that games like WoW have become and many others have also.

Fri Feb 18 2011 4:27PM Report
Benthon writes:

I'm not sure I agree with you on the argument that having a different set of armor for playing a different role is bad.

Needing PvE gear and PvP gear is ridiculous, but even WoW had a time (and the best time, imo) where PvP gear didn't exactly give you anything to survive longer besides a few more stamina points at the cost of a few primary stat/crit/hit. Vanilla ftw.

Fri Feb 18 2011 9:34PM Report
Benthon writes:

I'd also like to add that I'm not sure why you "run" arenas if you're going just for the gear. I did arenas for the titles and to show my abilities in-game to others, I could care less about the gear (and you're fully geared anyway 2 months in) portion of it and I'm sure many others who PvP in the high brackets feel the same way. It's for the fame! :)

Fri Feb 18 2011 9:37PM Report
sharonrsulli writes:

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

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Fri Feb 18 2011 11:27PM Report
Pigozz writes:

I myself never understood the need for two sets of gear...it one is removed , the scales wont change at all (vanilla wow), and that 10 second crap is no excuse...you could mix pve and pvp stats into one armor..I find  it only a lame,greedy excuse from companies to make you grind more and more

Sat Feb 19 2011 4:13AM Report
Inktomi writes:

Aren't all RPG's centered on the acquisition of better armor and equips to face bigger and better challenges? That may be true, but modern MMO's take it to a bad place to keep players playing.

The fact is that they depend on people signing in month after month to keep the cash rolling in. One way to ensure that is making  different levels and styles of equipment. 

Many times upgrades are so very close its hard to decide what is better or not. Many types of gear could be viewed as purely situational. As in Rift, If I am going to pvp, I will want more gear with endurance for more hit points, in pve I would want more dex for maximum crit and damage.

My question would be, why unbalance it between dex and endurance? The third stat for rogues, strength, is pretty standard on both sets. 

Yes, I might forget my endurance gear on and go pvp and will not notice it at all. Having better HP will help me either way. My point is that it sometimes is not in the gear, but in how a players plays their class. Gear for the most part is mandatory in progressive games like MMO's, but for the most part purely situational.

/bump

Sat Feb 19 2011 10:03AM Report
AKASlaphappy writes:
I completely agree! I actual made a forum post this week that they need to make a new sub-genre for MMOs named MMOLOOT. Then they need to put most of the MMOs in this subgenre and stop calling them RPGs. When I played Baldur’s gate, Icewind Dale, Pool of Radiance, Final Fantasy, or Ultima the end all be all of the game was not that I could get the magical sword of doom. Don’t get me wrong it was fun finding the items in the game, like a magical bag of holding, but is only a small part of the game. There was the story, the world, the adventure of being people in a different planet, in a different time, it was role playing.
 
Baldur’s gate would have never been the great world and story if it was all about the loot. In fact in would have sucked if they just said “by the way you are the son of the god of War and the rest of the story doesn’t matter; now  just go grind gear so you can kill the totally pointless bad guy at the end of the game.” If I wanted to play a game with absolutely no point besides getting gear to kill crap, and a really lame story, I would have stuck with First person shooters.  After all Doom, Wolfenstein, and Duke Nukem already have that covered (and even they were replaced by half life a FPS with more substance than me get gear, then me kill stuff). I played RPGs because they had more than that, they were not one dimensional. It boggles my mind how they can call the MMOs now days RPGs. Now if a MMO dev came out and said this game is not about RPG, it is going to be about the bling bling fo shizzle my nizzle. I actual would respect them! 
Sat Feb 19 2011 10:54PM Report
Vicari0usly writes:

no wonder you think your so important you have a blog.

Sun Feb 20 2011 3:45AM Report
erictlewis writes:

Wow this is so dead on.  Like in lotro who they came up with the idea of a hard radiance gate.  The only problem was nobody liked it other than the high end raiders.  I have to wonder what happens when they pull the plug on radiance in a week or so.   Becasue without that grind I am not sure what they are going to have in place to keep folks grinding at the end game. 

I can remember in old swg, it was not about the gear it was about the fun,  then the nge happened.  Ever since then all the game companies have went to the gear model.  Sadly folks just follow them and keep going oh this is fun.

Sun Feb 20 2011 9:00AM Report
Soultice writes:

Honestly it is easier to balance classes with gear as opposed to trying to balance a game around classes.  Thus the problem.  PVP games were just that pvp games and pve games were just pve games.  Along came games that combined both and it is tough to balance the entire game around classes.  So dev's use gear to balance things out.

When playing earlier games that had a pvp element along with pve the dev's did not balance classes.  Players learned the opossing classes and learned what classes to avoid and what classes they were the counter too.  Today most players are too lazy.  I got owned and this or that class is overpowered.

I am not talking about and all of you know it, when a dev tweaks a game only to cause havoc with some abilities.  Heck back in the EQ days you always carried more then one set of gear and several different resist items.

Gear is another way to keep players playing, someone had to say it!

Mon Feb 21 2011 7:59PM Report
Giddian writes:
I think people are too obsessed with it. You reached the end, Go outside and Play, Go see a movie, Visit some relatives of friends.
 
Or maybe it isn’t that important to me to get GEAR. As long as people are obsessed, they will continue.
Wait for the NEW Expansion, Yep, more Gear for everyone to Obsess about.
 
Dark Age of Camelot and Asheron’s call where good {I LOVED both of them}, but that’s obviously not what people want, otherwise there would be more games like them and less of them like WoW.
 
Bottom line. Money Talks, Bullshit walks.
Tue Feb 22 2011 7:56AM Report
Noxulus writes:

How else are they going to keep you subscribed if it's not to better the character you spent half a year raising with another half year hunting for awesome gear. Remember all games are run first and foremost as a business, as soon as it fails to be profitable it will be shut down or rebranded into a profitable model.

Wed Feb 23 2011 3:47AM Report
leomaxwell4 writes:

Though this is true for most mainstream games, there is still hope. There have been developers and games that have tried to change this factor.

The Chronichles of Spellborn for one tried a system where armor itself had no real stats and instead needed gems to be inserted or something like that, however im not sure what caused the game to die, but it had its own styles and ideas going and its a shame that its not as popular (if its even still alive) then it is now.

Another game i would like to point out is Mortal Online, the gear in this game is not dropped by anything (with the exception of some usless risar slave rags), instead it is made by players. there is still somewhat a distinction between what would be good for pvp and what would be good for pve, but its nothing quite as intense as something like WoW is, its more of just a prefernce with low encumberance high speed is more used by pvpers. However the main point im trying to make with this game is gear is quite easy to come by if you know a armor crafter or weapon crafter, pay him to make you a set, or go get the mats for free/discounted armor/weapons and youre set to go, also this game is very much dependent on the type of build you make your character as there are many combinations. and one last note though, the reason why gear is so easy to get is because you can loose it even more easily though.

right now i cant think of any more examples that are sticking it to "the man" (we all know who) and is trying to change gear dependancies, but i think these 2 games are good examples, and that i hope to see more like this, actually no, i wish to see more games like this that ACTUALLY make it. however my therory is the gaming community is quickly devolving and is becoming mini-gameized and WoWitized or so to speak. just look at all the crap people are buying on the playstation network, look at how much time is wasted on facebook with all the endless game app requests and crap, and most of all, look at how many games fail horribly if thier not a WoW clone. so its a sad truth, is Blizzard to blame? are Game devs in general to blame? only by 1/3, the other 2/3 goes to the general, commoner gamers in the gamming community.

although, this is all my opinions and therory.

Wed Feb 23 2011 8:08PM Report
Hopscotch73 writes:

+1 to Soultice - well put.

If I type any more I'll just end up repeating what you already said, with less eloquence.

Darned skinner-box MMOs.

Tue Mar 01 2011 12:03PM Report
Anolev writes:

"What ever happened to games that involved taking and holding territory? What ever happened to games the involved getting richer or gaining political power? Running a city? Being a successful merchant or business operator? Where is a game that doesn’t require me to spend all my time chasing gear, just so I can participate in end game content to just get more “gear”!  "

- I'd say the closest you'll find to this (in my experience anyway) is EVE Online.  I don't play it anymore mind you, as it's too hard core for my playstyle, but it has basically all of those elements.  Someday when they add avatars, I may try it again...

Now then, the one game which has me excited at the moment which (as far as I can tell) does not have a focus on gear is SW:TOR.  BioWare does things differently - the focus for all of their previous games has been story, and based upon what we've read so far, it looks like this will undoubtedly hold true with their MMO. 

Tue Mar 01 2011 4:14PM Report
dreamscaper writes:

My pet theory is this is a side effect of MMORPGs becoming less of a social experience and more of a 'how do I use other people to benefit  myself' experience.

Fri Mar 04 2011 5:04PM Report
Gouchpuss writes:

As usual, your Blog is one of the most entertaining reads on this site and I couldn't agree with you more on the subject of gear.

One of the reasons I love EVE online is that even with the best gear in the game, without your own personal knowledge of how to use it and your characters learnt skills, it's all about as useful as chocolate teapot.

Wed Mar 09 2011 5:23AM Report
Deathofsage writes:

It's not like reality is any different for most people.. You earn a check so you can pay your bills (and maybe have nice things)--you pay your bills so you can keep your car, so you can get back to work and so you can keep your house, so you can get a good rest before heading back to work.

Players have different sets of gear for different areas of play for the obvious reason... the disparity between the dps a boss is meant to take and what a player is meant to take. You can't have players running around with raid boss hp because then they're either an impossible take down for imposing players, or raid bosses don't need raids. Yes, entering into PVP is not fun by any means because you get stomped by people who you can hardly damage in the time they're lolnuking you.

Lastly, if your stats mean anything, there will always be a best setup of gear for maximum efficiency. Even when a player in a game has several options for a slot, they still pursue one that the community has dubbed BiS. You have three types of players. Those pursuing BiS with fury, those pursuing as fast as they can while remembering it is just a game and those bent on being the special snowflake.. doing things differently just because different is important to them.

Sun Mar 13 2011 11:28PM Report
BadSpock writes:

There has already been a game like this before. It was called Ultima Online.

Problem was, Everquest was a lot more popular because it was a gear centric level treadmill.

And as such, all the MMOs since have included some form or another of gear centric, linear progression based game play.

Even the quote "sandbox" champion EvE is heavily gear centric (tech 1,2,3 etc.) and heavily grind centric. Sure, it's an open ended sandbox world but the power progression is one of the WORST linear progression grinds in the genre because you the player have absolutely zero control over how fast or slow you level up. It's all real time based skill training. 

The game you people want has actually already existed, but it wasn't as popular as the power-gamer / achiever friendly grind-tastic crapfest that was EQ. 

As such, and now due to the massive success of EQ clones like WoW, we'll never see a real sandbox ever again unless it's indie made.

Even the indie guys like Darkfall / MO screw it up majorly by making things so grind heavy and including such top-heavy linear progression mechanics.

Oh and @inktomi

No, RPG's are not about levels and gear they are about story and characters and exploring the unknown. The Hero's Journey, the story device at the heart of every RPG story (and many good films) is about bettering yourself, yes this is true, but our limited brains and programming skills are what defines this bettering of one's self by levels and gear progression and other simplistic, linear, unimaginative treadmills.

Sat Mar 19 2011 6:08PM Report
Evasia writes:

But you yourself plays WoW and ive seen you on several occasions with enthusiasm talking about games like WoW, so how can this be?...your contradict your own self hehe by this topic.

Sun Mar 20 2011 4:24AM Report
Sharook writes:

WoW gameplay is based on giving the player doses of endorphine in quick succession. The simplest way to do this is by offering loot from fallen opponents. I think it is utterly natural for humans to feel like this, after succeding in a conflict you reap your reward from a defeated enemy and you become richer and more mighty. Your brain loves this, feeling successful AND more powerful!

They started this concept with diablo by throwing in items with magic bonuses, greens, blues, yellows, purples. The hunt for more power becomes addictive.

WoW as the X-th incarnation of this basic principle uses the same mechanics, only that it has some problems there. You play your char much longer than in a single player game, so the magic gear progression is much longer, too. This leads to an inflationary gear system, where, in the end, 80% of a char's cababilities come from gear. The char is a super-human armor with a noob inside, that wouldn't have a chance naked against a geared-up lower char! That's imho a travesty of what I deem a heroic character.

Now since it is their basic game principle they can not think out of their box and just change it. And here we go.

Furthermore the game is not meant to end like a diablo. This is the prime paradox for most MMOs btw. Especially for themeparks, which have a mostly static world. You can not have a themepark with pre-made quests and stories, where everything is subject to change, can you? So in the end you are done, max char, prime villain defeated, story at an end, let the credits roll. Oh no wait, this game is meant to be played forever. How to keep the players playing with no more content? Repetition! How to motivate them to rince and repeat? Offering more POWA! Keep the gear press running.

The prime question here is: how to motivate players to play a game ever and ever again with other tricks than offering shiny loot?

Wed Mar 23 2011 5:38AM Report
Kain_Dale writes:

Every Game has its flaw... I notice nowadays they starting to add more big bosses since AC came out... This hurts the game design little bit. Asheron's Call doesnt have boss in every dungeon in early days... that way so people doesnt camp, farm on certain spot for certain boss for LOOT.  Everyone has fair share to find things. 

Fri Mar 25 2011 3:36AM Report
just1opinion writes:

I could not agree more, Teala. It's complete and utter time wasting bullshit.

Sun Mar 27 2011 12:48PM Report
~Roh~ writes:

Yeah I'm late commenting but well. You made such a good point, one Ive been thinking for so long that  want to leave my 2 cents. I completely agree. I think gear should reflect your characters play style and sense of personal style...

And I completely agree. I haven't been truly interested in a game since well.. since SWG took a turn for the worse instead of the better like I was hoping.

The gameplay of most games is boring. And there is no point for me. I don't want to collect digital crap for the sake of collecting digital crap. I don't want to climb some ladder board... Screw that crap.

I want a game where I can where toward goals that don't end. And goals that work with and against other real people. As you said.. Territory conquest is a good example. Things that require me to maintain it. In game politics. Not my thing but their existance in a game would do wonders to keep things interseting.

Now there is EVE. EVE has accomplished almost everything I want from a game. Its actually epic. But first there is that... stupid time based skill system. So if I am a hundred times better then the guy who played three years longer... I will still always be far behind him? Screw that. Then there is the combat itself. A space game where you don't feel like your piloting your craft... And the combat is just one big rotating skill time watcher. Blah.

I think what everyone who agrees with you needs is for someone to learn from EVE on every aspect of MMOS.. But for character progression and combat. You know. Those things should actually be influenced by the player and entertaining. If someone else could do that we would all be saved.

Fri Apr 01 2011 11:36PM Report
Kruul writes:

Your reasons why DAOC had such a great end game were also the reasons people left the game. TOA made PVEing for gear a must to be competetive end game. But I do agree DAOC had much better end game than any of this rubbish these days

Tue Apr 05 2011 8:42PM Report
Kyleran writes:

Teela, where have you gone?  Oh well, decided to chime in better late than never.  I totally agree, the gear grind of modern MMO's totally bores me (Rift being the latest one) and I really do miss the way DAOC was designed (prior to TOA)

Tue Apr 19 2011 3:03PM Report
Palebane writes:

I agree with this blog. One reason I can think of why you need both PvE and PvP gear sets is because if you only really participate in PvP and there was no separate set, all the PvE raiders would just steamroll you because of their excessive gear advantage. I guess it's not that much different than now in retrospect. There should be optional PvP that standardizes gear for everyone that participates, like they do in the arena tournaments. I'm not pedalling the treadmill any longer. I'll just go play TF2 or something.

Sat Jun 04 2011 12:28PM Report

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